When “Small” Fears Stop Big, “Little” People

We went to the park the other day and my usually fearless daughter wouldn’t go down the slide because a dead bug was on it.She’s gone down that slide hundreds of times, but that day a speck of fear on a giant path of whirly delight…stopped the whirly delight from happening. It was so small in comparison. She could have easily slid right down and slid it off with her own movement. Aren’t we all capable of doing that sometimes? Sliding our own fear right out of the way when we just get moving–when we realize that we ourselves are a tool against fear, because we’re bigger–we possess something bigger? But she was stuck, so she avoided the slide. I didn’t want to jump in and rescue, because I don’t want to be my child’s hero. I want God to become her hero and I want her to learn to go to Him. I want to use these tiny moments as teachable moments so the big, unpredictable and often harsh world doesn’t render her “stuck” in life. A few weeks ago, I read a quote in the book Parenting with Love and Logic that said “rescuing parents often rescue out of their own needs. They like to heal hurts. They are parents who need to be needed not parents who want to be wanted.” I will always be there for my babies, but what a realization that my own heart to rescue could actually be selfishness instead of love. A desire that forms from my own need to eliminate pain and fear because *I* can’t handle the thought of a hurt or disappointed “baby” of mine. My job isn’t to protect my child, it’s to equip her to confront an unpredictable world confidently—to use her mind to make responsible choices and to find responsible solutions. So, she didn’t go down the slide. She avoided it, and I let her. And then after 30 minutes I asked, “Ari, do you want me to move the dead bug?” “Yeah,” she said.“ Let me show you how we can move dead bugs,” I said with the brush of a hand. “See, it cannot hurt me.” I showed her how we move dead things that stop us from doing what we once could easily do and that stop us from doing new things. And, I showed her that if we can’t face things on our own, we have a choice to ask for help—we can always ask for help. And last week, I showed her how to look for things around her to sweep dead bugs out of the way, smash live bugs, or catch them and return them outside. We’ve moved dead bugs with sticks, we’ve washed live bugs away from the pool with water, and we’ve shooed bugs outside. We’ve held hands in the middle-of-the-night hours and prayed away nightmares full of bugs. And we’ve recited “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” – 2 Corinthians 1:7She is still afraid, but she knows what to do in the face of her bug fear—sometimes it’s asking for help, sometimes it’s grabbing a stick and conquering on her own, and sometimes it’s praying during the darkest hours. And when she needs a reminder of how capable she is, we return to the moments and rehash the stories of how she’s dumped water on a “pincher bug” or called me to get the broom—we return to the successful moments so we can return the confidence and courage.

So maybe I did rescue her after all, but the “rescuing parent” inside of me didn’t. It was the parent who recognized her Rescuer in that moment and that only by pointing her child to Him–and who He’s created her to be–could she truly rescue her.

And isn’t that what we should be doing all along–being rescuers because we point to the Rescuer not because something inside of us needs to be?